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Explore new cultures during International Education Month

A group of international students walking on the Missouri State University campus.
A group of international students walking on the Missouri State University campus.

Our weekly program, Missouri State Journal, is a collaboration between KSMU Radio and Missouri State University. It's hosted and produced by MSU's Office of Strategic Communication, and it airs each Tuesday morning at 9:45 a.m. on KSMU.

This semester, more than 1,800 international students are enrolled at Missouri State University, with 1,001 of them physically on the Springfield campus. To recognize the diversity these students bring to campus and build inclusion, Missouri State has established International Education Month each November.

"International students bring a lot to the Springfield community," said Samantha Francka, marketing and communications coordinator for international programs at Missouri State. "We'll have different events and banquets and festivals that we'll celebrate in November.

"And then we'll also have different events for international students specifically that may be help them with career preparation or help them understand how to use Missouri State resources. It's just a time for us to really focus on our international students and what they need. And then what they bring to the Springfield community."

Banquet and show

Throughout International Education Month, there are many ways to get a glimpse into the cultures around the globe. One major event is the Association of International Students' Banquet and Show.

"Students from all over the world will present their cultures through food first. The students compete to see whose recipes will be served for the night and the dining centers are really kind to let the students use their facilities to prepare the food," Francka said..

Then the event moves to the Plaster Student Union Theatre for the show.

"We've had everything from hip hop dance to yodeling before, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the students bring to us this year," she said.

Be an International Friend

To give the international students another opportunity to get off campus and interact with the local community, there's also the International Friends program. Although it has existed for years, there was a major outpouring for the program early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We had hundreds of people email and call and say 'how can I support students?' That was really lovely to see when everything was so hard," Francka said.

Now that events can be held in-person again, the International Friends program is pursuing more opportunities for the students in the community.

"Obviously there's cultural exchange between local families and students, but students can be engaged in the community in the ways that your family are engaged," she said.

They are currently looking for families and individuals to participate.

Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work in the office of strategic communication. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.